Today’s announcement from Comcast that it’s offering more than 1000 HD choices to consumers is impressive. The figure is 5 times what Comcast offered last year, the company says, noting that HD viewing is “skyrocketing.” It’s not coincidental that this announcement comes just weeks after Comcast finally agreed to carry Mark Cuban’s HDNet, which provides a wealth of HD content, specifically sports, movies and news coverage from Dan Rather.
Even more impressive than today’s announcement is that the number one MSO intends to continue to prime the pump with HD, Comcast’s Jennifer Allen tells us. “This is just the beginning…we are focusing on HD content that our customers want, sports, movies, shows and music have been the categories that we’ve found they watch a lot,” Allen notes in an interview. “Kids programming in HD is not a priority,” she adds. “They want [kids programming] on demand, yes, but not in HD.”
This push for HD content ties in with what Brian Roberts told us exactly two years ago, that HD and HD VOD would be a major push for Comcast. Roberts formalized Comcast’s HD and HD VOD push at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, calling it Project Infinity, which, he said, would eventually allow consumers to watch any movie, TV show or video On Demand.
Comcast backs up its whole hog move into HD with stats from reputable research houses, including: the proportion of viewing time spent with HD has increased nearly 50% in 4 years; during the next 3 years, the total number of HD households receiving HD service is expected to increase by 90% or 53mln households; of homes with HD cable, 27% have two or more sets hooked up to cable HD. So you have to wonder 2 things: One, will the rush to buy HD sets and hook up to HD service continue in a sluggish economy? And, will the offering of HD content be enough to keep consumers happy with Comcast, which continues to be dogged by charges of price hikes and inconsistent customer service? Answers should emerge in the next few years.